We produced the first national-scale quantitative classification of non-forest vegetation types, including shrubland, based on vegetation plot data from the National Vegetation Survey Databank. Semi-supervised clustering with the fuzzy classification algorithm Noise Clustering was used to incorporate these new data into a pre-existing quantitative classification of New Zealand’s woody vegetation.
Changes in vegetation from 1990 to 2000 were examined at 10 high country localities, representing four grassland types: fescue tussock (Festuca novae-zelandiae), snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida), red tussock (C. rubra), and silver tussock (Poa cita). At each locality, three treatments were established: ambient sheep+rabbit grazing, rabbit grazing only, and no grazing. The mutivariate methods of classification and ordination were used on individual-quadrat cover data to define vegetation states and to examine transitions between them over time.
Changes in Hieracium abundance in Eastern Otago tussock grassland were examined by sampling 163 sites in 1982 and again in 1992. For Hieracium pilosella, H. praealtum and H. lepidulum, as well as Agrostis capillaris for comparison, colonisation of new sites was recorded, as well as extinction of species from sites over the 10 years, and changes in cover. H. pilosella colonised the majority of sites from which it had been absent in 1982; it disappeared from only a few sites where it had been present at very low cover.
Predictions from three conceptual models of the dynamics of semi-arid vegetation (Clementsian succession, alternative stable states and annuation/pulse phenomena) are used to review the available evidence on changes in the vegetation of semi- arid lowland Central Otago, New Zealand. Evidence is presented from Central Otago that corresponds with Clementsian succession and with annuation/pulse phenomena, although there is so far no formal evidence of alternative stable states.
We examined the distribution and abundance of the invasive Hieracium species (hawkweeds) in the dry grasslands of the Upper Waitaki Basin (Canterbury) and Otago, using measures of Hieracium species frequency and hawkweed cover from 301 vegetation plots. Average hawkweed cover was significantly less in Otago than Canterbury. Hawkweed cover was also lower on drier sites, with hawkweeds having less cover at lower elevation, on more xeric sites and, in Canterbury, on soils with a lower moisture holding capacity.
Soil characteristics were examined within and adjacent to two vegetation exclosures near Porters Pass, Canterbury retired from grazing 45 years ago. Soils were analysed for a range of simple physical (topsoil depth, bulk density), chemical (pH, exchangeable cations, P, S, total C and N) and biochemical (microbial carbon) properties to determine whether the vegetation recovery inside the exclosures was reflected in soil differences.
The vegetation of Campbell Island and its offshore islets was sampled quantitatively at 140 sites. Data from the 134 sites with more than one vascular plant species were subjected to multivariate analysis. Out of a total of 140 indigenous and widespread adventive species known from the island group, 124 vascular species were recorded; 85 non-vascular cryptogams or species aggregates play a major role in the vegetation. Up to 19 factors of the physical environment were recorded or derived for each site.
A significant recovery of food plants preferred by introduced deer (Cervus elaphus) occurred between 1969 and 1984 on 57 permanent plots in the alpine grasslands of northern Fiordland. During this period the deer population was reduced markedly by hunters operating from helicopters.
An approach is outlined for synthesising current understanding of nitrogen dynamics in natural grasslands and extensively managed grassland systems. The increasing complexity of models is illustrated from recent literature, first conceptualising and eventually process-simulating the dynamics of nitrogen, especially in the soil sub-systems of grasslands. Some comparisons are made between New Zealand and North American grasslands in the magnitude of some N pools and fluxes and some of the principal features of soil biological studies are noted.